Michigan nurses protest GOP cuts with soup kitchen at State Capitol

LANSING, Mich. (PAI) – First it was the Wisconsin tent city of “Walkerville,” pitched on the Capitol grounds in Madison more than a month ago, to protest GOP Right Wing budget cuts. It may still be there, but the governor and legislature dismissed it.

Then it was “Downeyville,” another unionist tent city on the Minnesota Capitol lawn in St. Paul. It stayed up while the state stayed shut down – for two weeks – over an impasse pitting GOP Right Wing budget and employee cuts vs. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to raise taxes on Minnesota’s 7,700 millionaires.

Now comes the latest labor protest: The July 13 Michigan Nurses Association’s “Governor Snyder’s ‘No Soup for You'” kitchen, where nurses ladled out chicken soup and served cookies on the lawn in front of the state Capitol building in Lansing.

Michigan is facing more right wing GOP budget schemes pushed through the Republican-run legislature by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder. The consequences are cuts in social services, including food for the hungry. “It’s a sad day when nurses are so saddened by the conditions in this state that they hold a soup kitchen to feed the needy,” said union member John Karebian.

The cuts led the Michigan Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, to erect the soup kitchen. It’s also part of NNU’s “Main Street Contract” national campaign to dramatize the nation’s continuing economic woes and start a strong dialogue and pressure on politicians to fix them.

“We are facing a reality in Michigan where business takes precedence over people and profit replaces a desire to serve the population,” MNA President Jeff Breslin said. “Our state government passed legislation that says it’s OK to reduce the business tax by $1.8 billion and raise taxes on the working poor and retirees by $1.7 billion. If you’re barely making ends meet, how will you survive if you’re paying more taxes?

“How will Advent House and VOA and the Rescue Mission continue to feed, clothe and shelter needy people when their budgets are already tight and more and more people need their services?” he asked.

“It’s obvious that not enough people in the Capitol Building are thinking about what’s going on out here in the streets of downtown Lansing. That’s why the nurses, when they’re not working in the hospitals, are starting to do events like this … If the government isn’t going to help take care of you, our patients, then we’re going to have to help out.”

Photo: Michigan Nurses Association


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.